Mushroom and Swiss Burgers
Given an option in burgers, my wife opts for a mushroom-Swiss burger most often, with patty melts a close second. This year her birthday fell during quarantine times, skirting her plans with friends and family and instead keeping us from doing much of anything except celebrating quietly at home. She's not one to make a big deal about her birthday anyway and took it all in stride, but my own excitement for birthday celebrations had me wanting to give her as many moments of happiness that I could, and one way I was able to do that was to cook her favorite burger for lunch.
Being in a stay-at-home period, I had extra time on my hands, so decided to make an addition not always common on mushroom-Swiss burgers—caramelized onions. I figured if I made a batch of these deliciously sweet and tender onions, I could used them for the burgers and other things throughout the week as I improvised meals more than usual.
After cooking the onions until they were super tender, they began browning and I kept deglazing the pan and letting them brown over and over again until I was left with the dark brown and super sweet onions that are my favorite. I then transferred them to a container, stored them in the fridge, and moved on to the other components of the burger.
The next piece was a garlic and herb mayo to act as a creamy contrast to the earthy mushrooms and heavy beef. On a normal day, I probably would have made the mayonnaise from scratch for maximum flavor, but I was low on oil, so went the easy route by just tossing garlic and herbs—I used a mixture of rosemary, thyme, and parsley—with some Duke's that I had in the fridge.
Moving on to the mushroom, cremini's were my fungi of choice here, although you could sub in your favorite shrooms to equally tasty result. It's common to sauté these in butter for burger usage, but I figured that I might was well use the grill to cook them while I had it going for burgers anyway. To prep the mushrooms before cooking, I just tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I then placed them upside down on the cool side of a two-zone fire and covered. I let them cook until the caps pooled with liquid, which is the tell tale sign they've released a lot of their moisture and are close to done. After testing each one, and giving a few a little extra time over direct heat to finish up, I moved the shrooms to a cutting board and then cut them into quarter-inch slices.
On the now empty grill I placed my patties. These were made out of 80% lean ground beef—anything less than 20% fat may end up producing a drier and less flavorful burger—and I pressed a dimple in the center of each patty, which helps them keep their shape while cooking.
I grilled the beef patties until they were well seared and the center was around rare territory. I go a bit by feel an intuition when cooking burgers, which does lead to inconsistent results, so to be sure you're at the right temperature, I recommend testing with an instant read thermometer and cooking the burgers until they reach between 125-130°F.
Once they were one level below what I wanted my final doneness to be, I moved them over indirect heat and added on the cheese, onions, and mushrooms. I then covered the grill and let them continue to cook until the cheese was melted, and during this time the burger's internal temp came up to my preferred medium-rare.
Quickly before serving, I toasted the burger buns because hot buns are happy buns! Then I assembled and served.
My wife knew I was cooking something, but wasn't really paying attention what it was, so she was pleasantly surprised when I called her for lunch and a giant mushroom-Swiss burger awaited her. Well wishing friends and family started her birthday on the right foot, and I think these beefy burgers with hearty and earthy mushrooms, creamy Swiss, sweet onions, and garlicky mayo helped continue a positive trend on a day that could easily have been more depressing than celebratory. Luckily things progressed on an upward trajectory, ending with another favorite of hers—taco night—followed by ice cream cake with virtual hangs with her family. All-in-all, not too bad of a birthday given the circumstances, and I truly hope others with birthdays during these trying times are finding the same types of moments of joy to keep them moving along with similar positive vibes.
Mushroom and Swiss Burgers
- Yield 6 servings
- Prep 45 Minutes
- Cook 20 Minutes
- Total 1 Hour 5 Minutes
- For the Garlic-Herb Mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons finely minced herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, chives, rosemary, and parsley)
- 1/2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic (about 2 small clove)
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- For the Onions
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- For the Mushrooms
- 1lb cremini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- For the Burgers
- 2lbs ground beef chuck, 80% lean
- 6 slices Swiss cheese
- 6 hamburger buns, preferably potato buns
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To make the garlic-herb mayonnaise: In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, herbs, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Set aside or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the onions: Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel or enameled cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and bottom of saucepan is coated in a pale brown fond, about 15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and deglaze pan by scraping with a wood spoon. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until another layer of fond has built up again, 3-5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and deglaze. Repeat process until onions are completely softened and a deep, dark brown, about 15 minutes morel. Season onions to taste with salt. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- To make the mushrooms: Place mushrooms in a large bowl. Add in oil and season with salt and pepper to taste; toss to coat evenly. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place mushrooms on cool side of grill and cover. Cook mushrooms until tender, reduced in size, and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
- To make the burgers: Break off 1/3 pound of ground beef and gently shape into a patty, working the meat until it just holds together. Using your thumb, create a dimple in the middle of the burger. Repeat with remaining ground beef. Season patties liberally with salt and pepper. Place patties on hot side of grill and cook, flipping occasionally, until well charred and burgers register 110°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into center of patty. Move burgers to cool side of grill, top with cheese, caramelized onions, and mushroom slices, cover, and continue to cook until cheese is melted and burgers register 125°F for medium-rare or 135°F for medium. Transfer burgers to a plate.
- Place buns, cut side down, on hot side of grill until toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer buns to a serving platter, spread each cut side with herb mayo, and top each with a patty. Serve immediately.